India has been facing major difficulties with rising COVID-19 cases and lack of health care provision. We realized that some families who are not able to afford the necessities during the pandemic are highly vulnerable to the virus. In fact, the risk of infection and the spread of the virus necessarily increases as most of the local population live close to one another. Therefore, the CAS project group members of the “Quaranteens” decided to distribute essential supplies such as fresh food, face masks, hand sanitizers, and clothing to the local families and the low-income groups of the community.
As we first gathered for the discussion, we assigned each the roles considering each of the members’ location. My role was the health and safety manager, and I took responsibility for monitoring health and safety risks while collecting and distributing[JO2] the goods. My job was to disinfect the clothing and the necessities we are giving out to ensure safety. I was also responsible for advising group members on how to minimize or ultimately avoid the hazards in the local area. This was done by conducting primary and secondary research on how to protect oneself and another when possibly exposed to COVID-19.
There has been a variety of challenges faced during the investigation and the planning process. First of all, I was unsure where to carry out the distribution inside Pune as I am not aware of the local community areas. I have conducted research on the green, yellow, and red zones in Pune and avoided highly populated areas to take precautions. I have suggested a few areas to Ishaan and Aryan since they are familiar with the local communities inside Pune. This was a crucial step as we had to find a safe place where it is not too populated and where there are people in need of the basic necessities. Regularly communicating with Ishaan and Aryan helped me find an area nearby called Yerwada.
In addition, there were numerous websites that contained differing information on how long the virus stays on different substances such as plastic and metal. I then decided to look into credible sources such as governmental and organization websites. With this information, I have summarized my own to-do list using my thinking skills on how to ensure safety among the members and the local families. I took initiative and sent my plan to Dr. Remya and received a few suggestions and advice. After modifying my plan, I have share it to the group members to make sure they understand the safety precautions they must take before, during and after the distribution.
Another challenge was the lack of communication among the group members. It was challenging to serve the community without any face-to-face interactions. Talking via virtual communication platforms reduced meaningful interactions as setting up a group meeting considering everyone’s schedule and time zone was difficult. Some were reluctant to voice their concerns. This caused a temporary feud among the members and negatively affected our teamwork. Thus, we made sure to remove any misunderstandings by arranging weekly group calls. This enhanced the level of group participation and I believe we all have practiced effective communication skills.
During our first distribution on the 22nd of December, each member prepared to play their specific role. Ishaan was in charge of the food and supply preparation, Aryan was responsible for taking pictures, Rohan and Aryan gave a hand in distributing the necessities, and I made sure the safety precautions were followed. I have sanitized the members’ hands frequently and wiped the edges of the food containers before handing them out. I reminded the group members to social distance because none of the local people were wearing masks. I also asked my Indian friends to emphasize the importance of wearing a mask and how to wear one due to my language barrier. However, I did a poor job overall as a health and safety manager since I forgot to bring the gloves. I was also quite flustered and lost in the beginning as people came in flocks to receive the food. Therefore, I have noted down several improvements that should be made for the next distribution.
Although vaccines are currently being developed and tested, nothing is guaranteed for now and the future is quite unpredictable. Since we do not know the extent of the virus, there is a possibility that COVID-19 will continue throughout 2021. Therefore, it is highly encouraged for upcoming DP students to take over this project and continue the service to support the ones in need.